Dancing through Life with Asperger's Syndrome

1 note


Hmph.  Well there go my thoughts about adding a Paypal Donate button as a tip jar to my side blogs — turns out you can have your account permanently frozen if you can’t prove that you’re a registered charity when you go to withdraw.   Back to the drawing board…

FWIW, I was thinking about putting together my methods for getting my shit together (time & task management) and maybe some of my Aspergers support stuff into, I dunno, PDFs? Books?  Powerpoint presentations?  Workshops?  Would anyone be interested in that kind of stuff?

Reblogging this over here since this is one of my more popular side blogs (the other one is )   For those who aren’t aware, my job came to an end in late February & I’m back pounding the streets looking for another one. In the meantime, both of us are unemployed (he’s disabled & we’re trying to get him on disability support) and I’m trying to brainstorm ways to cope with some emergency expenses that have come up.  Most people on Tumblr offer fan art or crafts, neither of which I can do, but I did come up with the above ideas.  Would any of those be of interest to anyone?

Filed under tip jar snakedancing mo like snakestumbling right now

43 notes

The #Aspergers Mind: Overclocking & Sleep

A lot of #Aspie people have this problem:  You’re trying to sleep but your brain just keeps going and going and going, like the Energizer Bunny.  It just won’t quit and it’s keeping you awake.  There is no official name for this that I’m aware of so we all create our own terms for it.  I call it “Overclocking.”

In computer terminology, overclocking refers to making your computer run faster, consuming more energy and generating faster process.  That’s pretty much what happens to our brains late at night - instead of winding down for sleep, they speed up, running faster and generating more and more thoughts, keeping us awake. 

This is where Neurotypical counsellors and support workers can have a failure to communicate:  They almost always assume that these thoughts are caused by worries and anxieties.  That’s often the case, certainly, but not always.  For me, I’m more often kept awake by creativity.  Plots, characters, storylines, details, all suddenly decide to wake up and start sorting themselves out.  I’m not alone in this; talking to other AS people, a lot of other people also have creative overclock.  So when our NT counsellors suggest “call a friend and talk about it,” we get confused.  Call up our friends (assuming we have any) at 1:30 in the morning to talk about this idea we have for a story?  Needless to say, this advice doesn’t usually work for us.

I’ve lived with overclocking my whole life but it’s only been recently that I’ve found anything that helps.  I discovered this while exploring the works of Philip Glass.  I found "Music With Changing Parts" and discovered that its morphing, oscillating tones, against the drone background, to be incredibly relaxing.  So, one night, while I was overclocking at an insane rate and desperate for sleep, I pulled up "Music With Changing Parts" on my tablet, turned down the volume so it was barely audible, and put it under my pillow.

It worked.  I was asleep before the piece ended.

Encouraged, I tried noise generator apps that generated white noise, pink noise and Brown noise (also known as red noise.)  These…. did not work.  I continued to overclock unabated.  But "Music With Changing Parts" did - what was different?  I continued to experiment with different apps and found one that, in addition to the coloured noise and other sustained tones, offered tones including "ocean waves," "blowing wind," and "cat’s purr."  Oscillating sounds.  Those sounds did the trick.

What’s happening?  Why does "Music With Changing Parts" work?  Why do the oscillating sounds work while the steady noises don’t?   I believe the key is in the oscillation.  Like the changing tones of "Music With Changing Parts," the oscillating sounds give just enough variation to grab my mind’s attention and hold it, keeping it from running into overclock.  At the same time, the sounds don’t engage so much of my attention as to keep me awake.  The oscillating sound tethers my mind, keeping me from overclocking and allowing me to sleep.

Now, my spouse has a bad back so we sleep in separate beds, which makes it much easier for me to stash a tablet under my pillow without worrying about disturbing him.   There are tinnitus-masking pillows available, with built-in speakers, or you can buy sleep speakers that fit into your own pillow.  This suggestion won’t work for everyone but if you’re able to make the logistics work (maybe your partner can sleep with earplugs?) then it’s a suggestion worth exploring if you’re plagued with a mind that just. won’t. quit.

Filed under aspergers aspie sleep overclocking autism vocabulary planet of the snake people philip glass music with changing parts sleep apps

7 notes

Square 8: Checklist of Neurotypical Privilege: New Draft


Neurotypical: (1) Having a type of neurology that is expected and/or favored by the society in which one lives. (i.e., having a “normal” or “typical” brain, and the typical sensory processing/body movements/facial expressions associated with a typical neurological system.)

We: (1) The people who helped to create this document—most of us autistic or with other less typical neurology; (2) those who support the recognition of human rights for autistic people and others with less typical neurology.

Very interesting checklist for the NT people in our lives to do a privilege check. I tend to dislike the terminology only in seeing it misused and used as another form of belittling others. It’s still a valid concept, and this list does bring a lot to light that perhaps the average NT person might not notice.

A work in progress but a good start at identifying the privileges of neurotypicality and the prejudice obstacles not faced by NTs.

Filed under autism aspergers prejudice privilege NT privilege

8 notes

How I’m Managing With #Aspergers Depression

No, your Snakedancing #Aspie hasn’t fallen off the face of the earth.  I haven’t had much motivation to write lately because I’ve been struggling with one of the worst depressions I’ve had in years. For people with #Aspergers, depression is a very common co-morbid, so I figured I would talk about it a bit.

I’m prone to Seasonal Affective Disorder, ie seasonal depression.  Lucky me, I got blessed with the dual-pole version, meaning I get a depression in the summer as well as in the winter.  I take Welbutrin, the dopamine reuptake inhibitor, which has been my magic pill.  While Welbutrin doesn’t prevent my depressions, it does enable to me to climb out of them fully.  If I liken my depressions to a pit, then with Welbutrin, I can climb all the way out of the pit.  Without Welbutrin, I can climb up to the edge and peer over the lip, but I can’t actually leave the pit.  Do not ever suggest I go without my Welbutrin, I will hiss at you and conclude you are not my friend ^_~

Welbutrin helps me climb fully out of the pit but climbing the pit walls in the first place takes some extra help.  I manage my winter depression with the help of vitamin D supplements, a sunrise simulator clock radio, and a light therapy lamp.  These really help me to stay on top of the depression.  While I still fall into the pit, these keep me closer to the surface so it isn’t as difficult to climb out.

But this year, my depression has been particularly bad.  A lot of situational factors have contributed, most of which I can’t do much about.  My anxiety has been the worst and has become unmanageable, so I’ve scheduled an appointment to look into assistive medication to help me get it back under control until it dies down again.  Most of the time I can manage my anxiety without chemical assistance but not this time.

(Now is about the time when well-meaning people pipe up with suggestions like meditation, yoga, diet, biofeedback, etc.  To which I can only answer:  How do you think I’ve been managing it up to this point?)

While I do have a therapist (obviously), I can say that most conventional therapies just don’t work that well for me, because of several features of my Asperger’s Syndrome:  Alexithymia and ruminative thought patterns.  I’ve yet to meet an AS person who doesn’t have these to some degree, and - perhaps not coincidentally - also tend to have problems with conventional therapies.

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is a first line of defence for anxiety problems, and it sort of works for me after the fact.  The problem is that CBT depends on you recognising when you’re getting stuck in a script.  When I’m stuck in a ruminative thought loop, I can’t see the script.  I can’t recognise the script pattern because I’m too deeply embedded in it; I only recognise the script after the fact.  If I can’t recognise that I’m in a script, I can’t apply CBT to alter the pattern, so CBT becomes difficult for me to use.

Tried and true talk therapy is probably the most useless for me because it depends on identifying your emotions and I’m alexithymic.  It’s as simple as that.  Story therapy is likewise useless because I don’t think that way.  The first time I was offered story therapy, I wasn’t even sure I understood what it was supposed to do, let alone what I was supposed to do.

The therapy that seems to work the best for me is Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT).  You’ll find a lot of conflicting information about EFT and a lot of sites dismissing it as hogwash.  It looks hokey, it really does.  Yes I feel a bit flaky when I do it, especially the 9-Gamut sequence.  I won’t try to argue whether it’s quacky or legit, all I will say is, It works for me.   In fact, I’m a little surprised at how well it’s been working for me.  I can say that the whole reason I’ve got enough energy to write this post is because it’s been working for me.  EFT (aka tapping therapy) seems to work by grounding me firmly in the present, keeping me from ruminating on the past or future.  It seems to be the only method that can actually penetrate my ruminative thought loops and pull me out of them enough to recognise and apply CBT.  I don’t need to recognise that I’m in a script; all I need to recognise is that I’m extremely anxious, stressed out, or morose.  That’s it — as long as I can recognise that much, I can apply EFT.

While a lot of scripts for EFT talk about identifying your feelings and where you feel them, I’ve found it isn’t necessary.  I can usually identify what I’m thinking much more readily than what I’m feeling, and I’ve found that that’s enough to do EFT with.  When I’m worked up, I can just about identify the four basic moods, but that’s enough for me to do EFT. 

I forgot to mention, the other reason that EFT seems to work for me is that it defeats the little voice in the back of my head that sneers “Yeah right, pull the other one” whenever I try something like positive affirmations.  The script for EFT acknowledges the self-destructive thoughts or down moods, and says its okay to have them.  The sneering little voice can’t fight that, when the very therapy itself is saying “yeah, and?  What about it?”  I haven’t found any other therapy that can shut that little voice up the way that EFT does.

This is probably the only technique I’ve tried that I can say has had a lasting, noticeable positive effect for me.  It can be difficult to find a therapist who is trained in EFT so because of that, I’ll give a couple of links.  One is to the EFT homepage with tutorials by the developer of EFT.  The other is a video that addresses tapping for depression in a generic way - I offer it for those for whom other therapies aren’t working, with no promises.  One warning:  As with EMDR, EFT can peel away layers and expose issues that you’d buried away.  If not handled carefully, these can cause further psychological damage.  For me, the solution was to keep tapping on those issues.

Filed under aspie aspergers depression eft emotional freedom technique welbutrin SAD light therapy depression management

14 notes

Definition of the Day: Rumination


From Wikipedia:

Rumination is defined as the compulsively focused attention on the symptoms of one’s distress, and on its possible causes and consequences, as opposed to its solutions. Rumination is similar to worry except rumination focuses on bad feelings and experiences from the past, whereas worry is concerned with potential bad events in the future. Both rumination and worry are associated with anxiety and other negative emotional states.

Whenever I think anyone is upset with me, even if they aren’t, I tend to obsess over what I might have done, trying to understand if I could have done something different, and jumping to all of the wrong conclusions. The same goes for situations I’m in that are unhealthy, like my last job (being upset with myself for quitting, things I could have done to stop my last boss, etc.), arguments with people, and ongoing situations that I can’t stop thinking about. It doesn’t happen with every situation, but when it happens, it happens hard. Trying to stop thinking about something is like trying to catch a river with my bare hands: I can stop some trickles, but the flow will flow on no matter what.

As I’ve learned, it’s a fairly regular thing for Aspies to experience, and each of us need to learn our own techniques. I usually try to find a quick resolution if it’s a conflict with another person or fix the on-going problem the best way I know how — I am solution oriented so that these things are no longer on my mind and I no longer have to be afraid that I have hurt someone. I trust the people in my life to tell me, but sometimes that trust doesn’t always help. I almost always feel stupid afterwards.

Filed under aspergers Aspergyaru aspie aspie life

177 notes

Fandom Saves Lives


I’m thinking about why it’s so significant that Orlando Jones is so supportive of Sleepy Hollow fandom.  I’m thinking about why I have such mad respect for the man for doing so.  I’m thinking about why fans feel a vague sense of hurt when other artists speak down about fandoms.  I think it comes down to this:  Fandom saves lives.  Literally.

There are thousands, millions of people in the world who live with depression, probably the common cold of brain disorders (I dislike the term ‘mental illness’, these things are more often due to upsets in brain chemistry and the neurology of the brain, which makes them brain not mind.)  Many of these people struggle just to get out of bed and go about their lives.  For many of these people, fandom isn’t just a way of life, it’s their reason for living. 

Many of these people (and I’m one of them) live day by day, crawling hand over hand towards small goals.  They aim for little goals, reasonable goals.  Little milestones on the walk of life.  If you don’t have depression, it’s difficult to understand.  It sounds pathetic, but for hundreds of thousands of people, it’s not just a way of life, it’s the way they stay alive.  Right now, hundreds of thousands are people are getting up each morning and going to work or to school, driven by the desire to see the Doctor Who Christmas special.  They lived to see the 50th Anniversary, now they’re living to see the Christmas special.  Right now, hundreds of thousands of people are telling themselves they can make it through January because they have to see the third season of Sherlock.  Right now, RIGHT NOW, right this VERY SECOND, someone out there is contemplating the instrument of their self-destruction and thinking “No, I need to see the next episode of Sleepy Hollow, what was that about a kid?”  And that will be enough to get them through.  That person will wake up the next day and the next and the next, until they’ve reached that small goal of seeing the next episode of Sleepy Hollow.

Many of these people (and again, I’m one of them)  have crap self-esteem.  Some people try to get attention by throwing drama fits; other people try to get attention by offering something to earn it.  They write fanfic and make fan art and they take the HUGE risk of putting themselves out there.  This is why comments are so important:  They prove to a person that their work - their life - has value.  For someone who is depressed, who has low self-esteem, having this kind of proof can help them keep going.  It gives them incentive to keep watching the show, to keep producing, to keep getting up in the morning.  To keep fighting for their lives.

Actors, writers, people in the industry, most of them don’t realise this.  They have no idea of the depth of impact they can have.  They know people enjoy their stuff but they don’t realise that their work is literally keeping people going.  So, when the artists these people admire, whose shows they love so much and gives them their next goal, say they’re creeped out by fanfic, or that they look for fanfic to mock, or say they look for fic to torment their fellow artists, how is such a person going to react?  Each and every one of those people has their heart fall into their stomachs and they think “Oh god, is it me?  What if they’re mocking my stuff?  I would die if I found out they mocked my stuff.”  The thing is, some of them mean it.  And some of them do, because what they heard was “Even the people I admire think I’m weird and worthless.”

And then we have Orlando Jones, an artist who’s not only okay with fandom, but actively encourages it.  He participates in it, dealing out encouragement and enthusiasm, and fandoms everywhere are taking notice.  Orlando Jones probably doesn’t know about the depressed people in Sleepy Hollow fandom.  He probably doesn’t know about the people who are living episode to episode.  He probably doesn’t know about the people who are writing wacky crack fic in an effort to buoy themselves out of a severe depressive event.  He probably doesn’t know about the people who are writing and drawing in the the hopes that someone will tell them their existance is worthwhile.   But every time he says something positive, every time he calls for more Ichabbie or validates Craving, those depressed people hear “I think your lives have value.  I think your coping skills are cool.”  They hear “I’m proud to be part of your reason for living.”  They hear “I’m proud to be part of what’s keeping you alive.”

That’s what makes Orlando Jones’s love for Sleepy Hollow fandom so significant.  He’s not just validating fans.  He’s validating a coping strategy that works for thousands of people.

I wrote this on my main blog but I’m reblogging it here because of its significance to people with Aspergers, because so many of us live this way.

Filed under depression aspergers coping strategies fandom